When Kaley Cuoco started acting in TBBT, she was just 21. Recently, she opened up about how, as she matured, she worked to protect Penny from being a sexist portrayal of women.
‘The Big Bang Theory’ hinged on a simple formula, the inability of these nerds to interact with women. However, that often meant that women were seen with the male gaze, making it an uncomfortable experience for many female viewers. Recently, Kaley Cuoco, who portrayed Penny in the famous sitcom, has re-affirmed her position by saying that she tried to protect her character from becoming a sexist caricature throughout her tenure.
- Kaley Cuoco career
- Sexism and Penny
- How did Kaley protect her character?
When Cuoco began starring in ‘The Big Bang Theory’, she was only 21 years old, but she already had an impressive career. She starred in ‘8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter’, an ABC drama, as one of the main characters. She portrayed Bridget Hennessy, a st6ereotypical blonde character who is famous and obsessed with men.
The blonde stereotype would follow her into ‘The Big Bang Theory’, where she played the role of Penny. A hardworking waitress and actress who lives in the same apartment complex as the four leading men, she was portrayed as a naive woman who knew nothing of science.
However, Kaley doesn’t resemble Penny in real-life. After the show ended, she starred in ‘Flight Attendant’, a thriller where she plays the titular role and is stuck in circumstances that leave her embroiled in international murders and other secrets.
She is also a career woman who has earned multiple accolades for her acting and continues to be someone exceptional in acting. Her latest show ‘Flight Attendant’ was made by her production company, “Yes, Norman Productions”. Her production company also has a first-look deal with “Warner Brothers”, allowing the major producer to make the first offer on many projects the company undertakes.
With a high-flying career and a jet-setting persona, Cuoco seems miles away from Penny. A fact that is apparent when we see the accusation levelled against the portrayal of the same.
Penny and Sexism
In the classic cartoon series ‘The Smurfs’, there is only one Smurfette in the entire village of Smurfs. In the “Atlantic” article, the author points out that it’s a “staple” children’s-programming tradition to depict “a group of male buddies … accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined”. There’s also a famous YouTube video entitled “The Adorkable Misogyny of ‘The Big Bang Theory”, which lays out the misogynist behaviours of the characters throughout the series.
Penny is portrayed throughout as this “dumb blonde” stereotype who is only obsessed with men. In a famous “Medium” article, the author pointed out, “The show often presents Penny as shallow because she cares about clothes and appearances, and she dates hot guys. However, it fails to address this same flaw in Leonard, who falls in love when he looks at her. The same could be said for Howard, whose shallowness is exaggerated for laughs but never judged with the same harshness. Since he’s a nerd who can’t achieve the hot girl he aspires to, we are supposed to feel sorry for him”.
It was recently revealed that Kaley Cuoco protected Penny from sexism while she acted in the show.
How did Kaley protect Penny?
Talking about her early years on the show, Kaley Cuoco, on how Penny was sexualised, said, “Also, by the way, at 21, I was hot. I wanted to show that stuff off. You would not catch me dead in a sexy cat costume now! I just had a litter of kittens – never doing that again”.
As the show went on, she insisted on a more conservative attire. She told “W Magazine”. “And as the years went on – Penny grows up, Kaley grows up – all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Can I have a long sleeve shirt? How about a slack? How about a loafer? I never wanna see that high heel again!’” Kaley Cuoco protected Penny from sexism by insisting that the character changed throughout the show, becoming more mature in the process.
Despite years of complaints about Penny being a sexist portrayal of women, Kaley Cuoco protected Penny from sexism when she played her. Recently, she revealed how she made the showrunners give her more of a personality and better clothing choices.